On Hope

There is nothing so pitiful as a young cynic because he has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing. – Maya Angelou

I’m not neutral in my writing. In truth, I can be quite polemic, and I have no aspirations to produce high-brow capital-L Literature and pretend to engage in objective reporting. That’s not what I’m about.

Instead, I see myself a little like some type of fertiliser. I’m here to write pieces that give other people hope, because I know what it’s like not to have any. I’ve gone through some rough periods. I’ve thought of myself as weak and unimportant. I’ve had depression (I’ll probably have it again). I’ve wanted to stop existing (I haven’t yet).

Guess what? I’m happy more often than depressed now. And when I see people who have lost hope, who think of themselves as weak and stupid and unimportant? I want to help them grow, by sharing what I’ve learned about myself and how to deal with myself in relation to everything else.

You don’t foster hope by reporting on catastrophes and corruption and making people aware of everything that’s wrong with the world in a neutral, seemingly unbiased manner. Actually, I’ve noticed that people are usually quite aware of the fact that governments are working against their citizens, that corporations are making money off wars, that our* industries are destroying the planet, that we’re* exploiting workers for the sake of upholding our* current lifestyle, that we’re all getting spied on by our* governments. Everyone seems to know about that. Yet few people like to think about it. Even fewer people feel there’s anything that can be done about it.

Don’t take this to mean that I’m denying how absolutely crucial the work of investigative journalists is. I’d probably be one of them if I knew how to properly adult.

But I’ve also noticed that the realities of a confusing, post-modern world are contributing to people’s depression and helplessness. What we need is a mix of both unflinching truth and hopeful daring: Here’s a problem. It’s pretty bad. Now, here’s what you can do about it.

Finding hope is one of the hardest things you can do. Which is why I’m here to give you life-affirming pep-talks and prove by example that it can be done, if you focus your rage and sadness and direct it somewhere productive. Being passive isn’t going to change anything. Action is the only way out.

You can start small. You can start by having someone call a therapist for you and make an appointment. You can start big, by flying out to another country and starting your life from scratch and trying on a different part of you every day, until you fit yourself just right. Whatever you do, try to find a group of people that are a various hopeful versions of you and let them inspire you. If you’re into coding, figure out where the closest Hackerspace is. If you’re into nature, join an urban gardening project. If you’re into social justice, join an autonomous group. Pick a battle. Fight. You’re not as alone as you think.

Cynics sit in caf├ęs and complain where no one can hear them. Activists are out in the streets and complain where everyone can hear them[1].

 


[1] That totally sounds like a quote by some smart person but I really just came up with that.

*we and our obviously mostly apply to citizens of the global North here.

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